Early May, Mostly Birds

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Buzzard

A post to cover the first half of May, excepting for a weekend walk with friends which I’m saving for a separate post. These first couple of photos are from a wander around Gait Barrows. There was actually a pair of Buzzards soaring overhead. I took lots of photos whilst not straying too far from cover, because I’m very wary of Buzzards in the spring and summer.

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Cowslips
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Sunset over Coniston Fells from Arnside Knott.
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Late light, Foulshaw Moss

I went to Foulshaw frequently, sometimes on consecutive evenings. It was often quite cool by the time I got there. Sometimes I did see the butterflies and dragonflies which I’d hoped to see, but rarely managed to get any photographs.

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Whitbarrow Scar from Foulshaw Moss
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Reed Bunting.

I think I saw at least one Reed Bunting during every visit. I even started to recognise their song.

This poster…

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…is on display in the hide by the bird feeders. Why did I take a photo of it – purely vanity! – some of the photos on it are mine, from the blog. Fame at last!

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Tree-creeper.
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Coal Tit.
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House Sparrow.

Although I always had a wander around first, on many of my visits I ended up sitting in that hide and photographing birds on and by the feeders for quite some time.

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Water Rail.

Initially, when I noticed this Water Rail, I quickly snapped a couple of photos, thinking, for some reason, that it was a Moorhen. I suppose the shape and the beak are similar, but otherwise there’s little resemblance. Then, when it dawned on me what I was looking at, I turned my attention from the feeders to the Water Rail beneath them. I’ve occasionally seen Water Rail before, at Leighton Moss, when the meres were frozen over. But only briefly. I’ve more often heard them: they make an extraordinary racket, squealing like pigs. I’ve never photographed one before. I assumed that I was incredibly lucky, but a couple of visits after this one, I was talking to a lady who told me: “Oh, he’s always there.” And on another visit, a Wildlife Trust volunteer told me that he thought that Water Rails were becoming less shy and are now often seen beneath feeders in various wetland reserves.

Oh well, I was still very chuffed to have had such a good view of what has always been a very elusive bird.

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Reed Bunting.
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Goldfinches and Lesser Redpoll.
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Lesser Redpoll.
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Male Lesser Redpoll.
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Pheasant.
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Crepuscular Rays from The Lots.
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Crepuscular Rays over The Bay.
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Orchids on The Lots.

This photo was my attempt to emulate an amazing photo of these orchids which I’d seen online. At the time that I took it, I was disappointed with it, because it’s not a patch on the photo which inspired it, but with hindsight I rather like it – it does at least hint at the profusion of orchids on that area of The Lots.

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Ramsons, Bottoms Wood.
Early May, Mostly Birds

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

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Early Purple Orchid, The Lots.

A post to round of the final week of April. The orchid is from and a short Sunday afternoon stroll across The Lots. Earlier in the day I’d had a walk along the Lune with The Tower Captain, whilst our respective lads were training at Underley Park, home of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC.

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River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale.
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Pipe Bridge over the Lune…
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Carrying water from Haweswater to Heaton Park reservoir in Manchester.
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Harmony Hall and Laburnum House in Milnthorpe.
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These last two photos from a lazy evening stroll whilst A was dancing.

The next time she has a lesson, I was more ambitious and drove to park by Leven’s Bridge for a walk by the River Kent.

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Force Falls, River Kent.

This circular route was a firm favourite when the kids were younger. It’s around three miles – not too taxing for little legs. Not bad for an evening stroll either.

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Solomon’s Seal by the Kent.
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River Kent.

Later in the walk, I encountered both the Bagot Goats and the Bagot Fallow Deer, both unique to the Levens Deer Park. I took photos of the goats, but it was too dark by then. (This post, from the early days of the blog, has photos of both, and of the boys when they were cute and not towering teenagers)

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Midland Hotel Morecambe, from the Battery. It’s here that, hopefully, the Eden Project North will be built.
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Lake District Fells from Morecambe Prom.
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Midland Hotel again. Arnside Knott behind and right of the small building on the Stone Jetty.

TBH and I had a half-hour stroll along Morecambe Promenade, prior to picking up B from meeting his friends in Heysham.

An Early Purple, Atomic Eggs and Morecambe Skies

Three Evening Outings

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I didn’t get out half as much this summer for after walk wanders as I usually do. I made excuses about the being too busy with driving A to and from dancing lessons, but these three evening walks from the same week in the tail end of April give the lie to that – so, obviously, I just didn’t make enough effort as the summer went on.

But anyway – back to the week when I was still trying. On the Monday evening, I dropped A off in Milnthorpe and drove the short distance to park in Heversham and climb Heversham Head. Bizarrely, in nearly thirty years of living nearby I’ve never climbed it before. In my defence, on the OS map there’s no path shown – I think it was Conrad who alerted me to the fact that there is actually access to the top. I followed the route in this leaflet (I think the field boundaries shown might be slightly misleading). Very good it was too, but it’s a shame I hadn’t set off earlier since the very flat light rather spoiled the extensive views.

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I shall have to come this way again, although I’m slightly put off by the many pinch-stiles, some of which are very tight for the more portly gentleman, and one of which had me thinking I was irretrievably stuck and contemplating having to wait there, like Winnie the Pooh in Rabbit’s burrow, until I had lost some weight.

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Dallam Hall

The following night was brighter, and I was out earlier. This time I walked from where A has her lessons, down through Milnthorpe, through the grounds of Dallam Hall, beside the River Bela, and out to where the Bela flows into the Kent estuary.

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River Bela – Heversham Head prominent on the right-hand side in the background.
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River Bela and Milnthorpe Bridge.
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River Bela and Milnthorpe.
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Harmony Hall.
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It’s always very sobering to be confronted with evidence of sleepy little Milnthorpe’s past as a slaving port.

Incidentally, I’m a huge fan of both Cicerone Press, these days based in Kendal, and of Mr Unsworth.

On the Friday evening, with no driving duties to undertake, I drove straight from work to the Rigg Lane carpark, for an evening ascent of Clougha Pike.

On my way up, I was tempted away from my usual route by a path which leading up into Windy Clough. A thin path took me onto slopes of shattered stones and boulders on the left side of the valley. The path seemed to split frequently, each bifurcation leading to difficult choices between two increasingly marginal options. Eventually, there was no discernible path, so I struck uphill, finding a thin trod following the wall along the high ground. When this hit a cross-wall I followed it down into the valley bottom, where there was a gate and, once again, a path. This lead me into surprisingly tall and scratchy vegetation, but also, eventually, onto a lovely path which gradually ascended up towards the edge on Clougha Pike.

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Looking towards Caton Moor, having escaped Windy Clough.
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Looking up the edge.
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There were loads of Red Grouse about. The males were strutting their stuff and very easy to photograph, so I took lots of pictures. The females were far more discrete and only showed themselves very briefly. They’re endearing birds, if somewhat loud. It’s a shame that they’re essentially there to be shot by ‘sportsmen’.

I found a comfortable spot on a huge boulder and sat down for a brew and a rest and to contemplate the view. It was warm, but very windy, so I was surprised to see this tiny Green Hairstreak clinging to the rock.

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Because I’ve previously seen these butterflies in woodland I’d incorrectly assumed that they are woodland creatures, but apparently they are well adapted to a number of habitats, including moorland.

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Another male Grouse.
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Along the edge.
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Who you looking at?
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Meadow Pipit (I think).
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The top!
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Looking over to Hawthornthwaite Fell.
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Morecambe Bay.
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Hunkered down for another brew and a ‘meal deal’ tea.
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Looking along the edge.

After my earlier misadventure, I wasn’t dissuaded from taking another new route – I’d spotted a thin path traversing the ground just below the edge and decided that would give an interesting new perspective.

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It proved to be a very pleasant alternative to retracing the edge path, although I suspect that in winter it may well be very boggy.

Three Evening Outings

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

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Ruskin’s View

Mid-April. Most of these photos are from a single day, which started with rugby training for B in Kirkby Lonsdale. The measures around the pandemic almost entirely wiped-out B’s final season with his age group team, although knee surgery would have kept him on the sidelines anyway. Hopefully he’ll soon be fit to join his contemporaries in the Colts team.

While he was training, I took my usual stroll by the Lune and through Kirkby. It’s unusual to see the river so clear.

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St. Mary’s churchyard, full of daffs.
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The Manor House.
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The Lune.

In the afternoon, TBH and I were out completing a circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point for a change! The sunshine was still with us, but now there were very dark and brooding skies too, a combination I find irresistible.

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Hollins Lane.
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Warton Crag and a snow-dusted Ward’s Stone across the salt-marsh.
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Warton Crag.
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Quicksand Pool and the copper-smelting chimney.
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The Bowland Fells across Quicksand Pool.
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Jenny Brown’s pano (click for larger image).

The remaining photos are from odd days during the second half of our Easter Break.

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Cove sunset.
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Huge cloud.
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Post sunset from Jack Scout.

B often does his best to present himself as a bit of a Philistine, memorably dismissing a stunning cave in the Cévennes, for example, as ‘just rocks and water’, but secretly he’s a bit of a romantic after all. He likes a good sunset and often watches them from Heysham Barrows with his school friends. I think this photo was taken on one of a couple of walks we took together in an attempt to catch the sunset from Jack Scout. We were a bit late on this occasion.

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Saturday market, Dalton Square, Lancaster.

I’m not entirely sure why I was in Lancaster, possibly due to the return of BJJ training on a Saturday morning. What I do remember was how shocked I was to see market stalls and shoppers. Although I’d been back at work for a while, Lancaster always seemed to stay resolutely quiet and traffic free.

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Washing-machine tub fire-pit.

This photos is a bit of a cheat, since it’s from March. Our washing-machine conked out, and, having replaced it, over a couple of Saturdays I dismantled the broken one and salvaged the drum to use as a fire-pit.

It wasn’t until April that we put it to use, toasting some marsh-mallows…

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TBH got a bit carried away…

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Flambéed marshmallow.

Actually, this is typical TBH cooking – she would call this ‘caramelised’.

A Market, A Fire-pit, Clouds and Sunsets

Early March

Well, I must have gone back to work. I mean physically back to work, rather than working from home. Until March I’d been out for a walk most days, but then the wheels came off. Working for a living is highly inconvenient. Anyway – here’s most of March:

The 1st

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Spring! I’m sure that the celandines had been flowering for a while at this point, and the Cuckoo Pint leaves hadn’t recently appeared on the floor of Eaves Wood…

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Maybe it was the blue skies and sunshine which made me pay attention to them. And to the wash of yellow catkins on the Hazel trees.

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I do remember showing TBH the tiny red male flowers, like little starfish, on the Hazels, which apparently she hadn’t seen before.

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There’s a garden on The Row which has an amazing display of crocuses every year, which I always make a point of going to see.

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Obligatory photo of The Cove

The 2nd

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A walk around Gait Barrows most memorable for this pair of Buzzards. I’ve become very wary (well frightened, if I’m honest) of these birds, having been attacked a few times by highly aggressive/protective tiercels during the nesting season. On the other hand, they are beautiful birds, and I’m drawn to them, like a moth to the flame perhaps. So here, I was gradually creeping towards the tree they were perched in, hoping that it was too early in the year for them to take umbrage, but also half hiding behind a small hummock, the top of which can be seen in the photo.

The light, unfortunately, was a bit rubbish, which doesn’t really square with these two views of Hawes Water…

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…which can’t have been taken very long afterwards.

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The 5th

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I must have been a bit late leaving the house, since the sun was already setting.

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Post sunset light from Castlebarrow.

The 6th

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To the Pepper Pot and then The Cove with TBH and ‘Little S’.

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One of those days when the a layer of cloud coverage had a very visible edge with clear skies beyond.

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The 7th

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Green Hellebore near Far Arnside.
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A walk around the coast to Arnside for a pie with TBH. No return over the Knott however and not many photos either.

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I’m assuming that there followed a couple of weeks of very iffy weather, because I don’t seem to have got out much until later in the month. Or a couple of weeks of extreme lassitude on my part. Or both.

Early March

A February Florilegium

So: Operation Catch-up is underway. February gets just a single post. Lots of short walks in February, nothing much further than 5 miles and often shorter than that. No ascents of Arnside Knot, but endless trips to Jenny Brown’s Point. I see, from MapMyWalk, that there were a couple of spells when I didn’t get out for several days running – I think a combination of work, inclement weather and decorating were to blame (decorating, I have decided, is one of TBH’s hobbies). As far as I remember, I only left the immediate area once all month.

I think it’s fair to say that the weather was quite variable, as you might expect in February, but as my photos show, there was some blue sky about too from time to time.

The 1st

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A distant view of the Howgills
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The Dale and The Forest of Bowland from Castlebarrow.

The 2nd

A had a physio appointment in Lancaster. Whilst she was there, I took the opportunity to have a wander around Williamson Park and the grounds of the University of Cumbria (in Lancaster, in Lancashire, I know?).

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Williamson Park fountain.
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The Ashton Memorial
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The view over Lancaster and Morecambe to the Lakes from the Ashton Memorial. Shame about the light.

The 4th

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TBH and I were out for our habitual circuit via The Cove and The Lots. We met A walking with her friend S, The Tower Captain’s daughter, and their dogs Hanley and Bramble.

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Dark cloud sunset from The Lots

The 5th

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Silverdale Moss from the rim of Middlebarrow Quarry.
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A flooded path in Middlebarrow Wood.
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Late light at Hawes Water.

The 6th

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A Charm of Goldfinches.
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Silverdale Moss.

The 7th

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Leaden skies over Eaves Wood.
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A fierce hail shower.
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Drifted hail by Quicksand Pool.

The 8th

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Clougha Pike from Heald Brow.

The 9th

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Snowdrops.
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A couple of hedgerows close to home were cut right back, down to the ground, but the roots weren’t dug out, I don’t think, so hopefully they’ll eventually grow back. (Must check on their progress.)

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I love the shape of the oaks when their branches are bare.

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Late light from Castlebarrow

The 10th

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Several different breeds of sheep here; I think the large one in the middle foreground is a Valais Blacknose sheep, presumably enjoying the ‘Alpine’ conditions in Silverdale. I’ve been racking my brains trying to remember wether I ever noticed any sheep like this when, years ago, I holidayed in Saas Fee, in the Valais Canton of Switzerland, but I can’t recall.

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Sunset from Castlebarrow.
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Post sunset from The Lots.

The 11th

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One of several photos I attempted to take of the sky, which had some interesting colours, during a wander around Middlebarrow Woods, where it’s quite hard to find a view which is uninterrupted by trees.

The 12th

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Warton Crag from the Salt Marsh.

This view was massively enhanced by the presence of a large flock of birds, which, unfortunately, were too far away to show up very well in the photograph.

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Sunset from Quicksand Pool.
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And from Jack Scout.

The 13th

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A photograph taken from much the same place as the one two above. A very high tide.
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The Forest of Bowland across Quicksand Pool.
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Warton Crag from close to the old Copper Smelting Works chimney.
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The cliffs of Jack Scout, Grange-Over-Sands and a distant view of snowy Coniston Fells.

The 14th

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High Tide again! Warton Crag across Quicksand Pool.

The 15th

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A gloomy day. Grange-Over-Sands from The Cove late in the day.

The 16th

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The same view the next day. Looking much brighter here…
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But it turned wet later. With TBH and Little S on Castlebarrow.

The 21st

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A walk across the sands, the first for quite some time, with TBH and A, from The Cove to Know Point. It was clearly ‘blueing up’ as Andy often says, so I tried to persuade them both to carry on around Jenny Brown’s Point with me, but I think lunch was calling, so I had to settle for continuing on my own.

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The chimney again.
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The grassy bank here was been eroding rapidly, revealing this clearly man made feature. Apparently there was once a small wharf here – could this be a remnant?

The 22nd

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The Forest of Bowland from Heald Brow.

The 25th

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Plenty of rain in February – the two seasonal springs at the Cove were both flowing freely.
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Looking to Grange again.
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Late light from Castlebarrow.

The 26th

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Heald Brow again.
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Late afternoon light on Warton Crag and Quicksand Pool.
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The stone seat at Jack Scout.
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Looking towards Morecambe and Heysham from Jack Scout.
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Sunset from Jack Scout.

The 28th

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High tide at Quicksand Pool again.
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A scramble on the rocks required to get to Jenny Brown’s Point.
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The two small figures on the water are on stand-up paddle boards, the toy of choice this summer it seems. It looked idyllic, I have to say. We debated whether we could use our inflatable kayaks in a similar fashion – we haven’t done to date, but maybe this reminder will galvanise some action on my part?

A February Florilegium

Hanging On Me

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A new traffic light had been installed at Waterslack where a footpath crosses the railway line. I suggested to the Network Rail engineer, who was there testing the lights, that I could claim the privilege of being the first to use the crossing, but he told me that they’d already been on for 20 minutes and that he had crossed several times, which made him first.

He was wrong, obviously.

I realised yesterday that I’ve been writing posts about this January since the start of June. So two months to write up one: this is obviously not sustainable! At this rate, there’ll come a point pretty soon where I’m exactly a year behind and it will seem like I’m strangely in sync. January, as Pilot used to sing, has been hanging on me.

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Hawes Water

Clearly, this won’t do – so back to portmanteau posts. This one winds-up the final week of the month, glossing over a couple of walks when the weather was a bit grim and the light not so suited to taking photos.

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Hawes Water Summer House, newly restored and turned into a visitor centre. At the time it was still locked up and, I realise, I still haven’t been in. I wonder if it’s open yet? Maybe I’ll have a look tomorrow morning!

No such problems on the Monday, when I had another long lunch break walk.

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It was still cold, and the edges of Hawes Water were partially frozen over.

I headed for the ‘top’ of the limestone pavements…

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…and settled down for some soup and a cup of tea (in the insulated mug)…

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I was sitting in a favourite spot of mine, close to a small set of steps which have a rustic handrail…

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This Robin seemed intent on joining me for my repast. Sadly, I didn’t have any bread to share.

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A rainbow day.
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Snowy lakeland peaks (just about?) visible behind the trees of Gait Barrows.
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Later, I was out again and took a turn by The Cove and The Lots.

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On the Friday, after work, TBH and I were out by Hawes Water again and were rewarded by some stunning late-afternoon light.

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Hawes Water.
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I was back that way, on my own, on the Saturday, presumably to capture the obligatory Snowdrops picture.

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It was a walk which finished quite late!

On the Sunday we repeated our usual circuit of Jenny Brown’s Point, but the weather wasn’t up to much. And that’s January dealt with. Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic!


And so to a tune. Something by Pilot? Ex-members of the Bay City Rollers? Not on my watch.

Hanging On Me

January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

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The view south along the coast from ‘the dip’, looking to Know End Point.

A quick stop at home, long enough to pack-up a sarnie and fill an insulated mug with tea, and I was out again, heading for ‘the dip’ where a large tree-stump looked very inviting. It proved to be a comfortable spot from which to enjoy the views and soak up some sunshine and quaff my picnic lunch.

From there I set of along the sands/mud…

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…regaining the shore just past Far Arnside.

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The insulated mug had been so effective that I hadn’t managed to drink my tea with my sandwich, which gave me the perfect excuse to lay claim to this bench and have another lengthy sun-bathe.

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I’d been sitting so long that I was now conscious of the fact that daylight was getting short, so rather than continuing around the coast towards Arnside, I took a steep, direct route up to Heathwaite.

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Ingleborough from Heathwaite.
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And again, with a bit of zoom.
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The Bay and the Forest of Bowland from Heathwaite.

I wandered up to the toposcope on the Knott, where someone had scattered some birdseed, which this very tame Robin was not going to be deflected from enjoying, despite the presence of several people and a couple of dogs.

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Alpenglow on Whitbarrow and the Eastern Fells.
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The Coniston and Langdale Fells.
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Around the Kent Estuary and the Howgills on the right.

The small groups of people were there, of course, to watch the sunset.

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And why not?

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Arnside Tower and the moon.
January Sunshine and a Knot Sunset

Feet Keep Moving

…which is more than can be said for the poor old blog!

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So..this is the second-half of a snowy January Saturday. Near the end of my morning walk with TBH and A the sun finally made an appearance. After lunch, when I set out again, this time alone, there was still some blue sky in evidence, enough to patch a sailor’s trousers, as my mum puts it. On south facing slopes the snow soon melted, leaving an odd patchwork of green and white.

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Eaves Wood.
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Stinking Hellebore, one of the first flowers of the year.

I was heading, initially, for Gait Barrows. This…

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…is usually a tiny little spring which creates a small pool before disappearing back underground. On this occasion, as you can see, it was creating a stream which had flooded the gateway and was flowing across the adjacent field.

From Gait Barrows, I crossed Coldwell Meadow, heading for the ruin of Coldwell Limeworks in Back Wood, but was distracted by the sound of this cascade on Leighton Beck..

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It’s not very big, but a bit of a rarity in limestone country where the water is often below the surface. No name is given on the OS map, but it’s close to the wonderfully named Creep-i’-th’-call Bridge, so maybe Creep-i’-th’-call Falls, which has a nice ring to it?

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Coldwell Limeworks
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Middlebarrow Quarry, partly obscured by very low clouds.
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Arnside Knott, also hidden in clouds.
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Near Arnside, by Black Dyke, I was fortunate to find a way around this flooded section of path.

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I climbed Arnside Knott, soon entering the cloud to find that the snow had clung on under the cover of the cloud.

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Arnside Tower Farm and a hint of Middlebarrow Wood.
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Whilst I generally enjoy the views from the Knott, it was quite exhilarating to be in the clouds and the monotone woods and apparently cut-off from the surroundings.

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The last of the light from ‘The Dip’, between Far Arnside and Silverdale.

Feet Keep Moving

The Weather is Variable

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TBH by the Pepper Pot.

Photos from a week’s worth of walks from back in January. This first is from the Sunday, the day after the glorious Saturday which featured in my previous post. As you can see, the snow was gone and so too the blue skies and sunshine.

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The lights of Grange from the Cove.

Monday must have been another drear day, because I had a reasonably substantial stroll after work, but only took photos from The Cove when it was almost dark.

On the Tuesday, I didn’t start teaching until after 11 and so took the opportunity to have a wander around Jenny Brown’s Point.

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The path down from Fleagarth Wood

The weather was a complete contrast from the day before. I think it was even quite mild.

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Farleton Fell in the distance.
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Quicksand Pool.

The tide was well in.

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Smelting works chimney.
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Mergansers. I think.
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Jack Scout coast. Coniston Fells on the horizon.
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The drab, dingy weather returned on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Wednesday – Elmaslack Lane.

Around the village, people had put their Christmas lights up early and now left them up late.

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Thursday – The Green, another late afternoon walk.

Using MapMyWalk usually persuades me to take at least one photo on each walk, so that I can attach it the file for that walk. I quite like having a visual record even of the gloomy days.

Friday brought a hard frost in the morning.

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Frosty windscreen.

And the longest walk of the week in the afternoon (only about six and a half miles).

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Wigeon (male).

I actually took lots of bird photos, particularly of a Little Egret which was close in shore, but the light was a bit weird…

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Lovely, but weird.

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Rounding Arnside Point into the Kent I was surprised to see that Hampsfell and the other hills across the river had a covering of snow.

And then, when I climbed to Heathwaite, I discovered that we had some too…

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In fact, on the Knott, there was quite a bit…

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It was getting late, and I had the top to myself. I was disproportionately chuffed to have found some snow to crunch, and had a good wander around the highest part of the Knott.

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Obligatory winter photo of flooded Lambert’s Meadow.

The weekend brought more cloud and damp.

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On the Sunday, I walked our now habitual Sunday circuit around Jenny Brown’s Point not once but twice, in the morning with our neighbour BB…

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And in the afternoon, with TBH.

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The tide well in at Quicksand Pool again.

Over the eight days represented here, I walked around thirty miles. Hardly earth-shattering, but not bad for a week when I was working and when daylight was at a premium. Working form home is a completely useless way to teach, but, from a completely selfish point of view, I was all in favour.

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So, pop-picker’s, the post’s title is from a song which, I’m pretty sure, I’ve shared here before.

The weather’s variable – so are you
But I can’t do a thing – about the weather

Here’s another couplet:

You dislike the climate but you like the place
I hope you learn to live with what you choose

Anybody know it? It’s from an album called ‘Magic, Murder and The Weather’ if that helps?

The Weather is Variable